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Linux Powers Military UGV 376

An anonymous reader writes "Linux powers a new autonomous unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) that learns routes by following along behind foot-soldiers, after which it can retrace the route solo, avoiding obstacles. iRobot's "R-Gator" UGV is based on John Deere's 658cc, diesel-powered M-Gator military utility vehicle platform, with control, navigation, and object-avoidance systems based on BlueCat Linux from LynuxWorks. I wonder how Linux idealists feel about their cute little OS being deployed in machinery of war?"
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Linux Powers Military UGV

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  • Sweet! (Score:5, Funny)

    by SaDan ( 81097 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:35AM (#14623240) Homepage
    If Linux can go to war, it's almost ready for the corporate desktop!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:35AM (#14623241)
    I am certain that there are many Linux idealists that will have no problem with their cute little OS being depoloyed in the machinery of war. Many of them will be more than happy to port new weapons to this platform. I suspect that some of the first batch of weapons will include the rocket launcher, the plasma rifle and the BFG2000.
  • How do they feel? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dcapel ( 913969 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:35AM (#14623242) Homepage
    I'd rather have linux do something like that, even if I don't agree with the 'that'. I'd rather have tax money saved on something like that, and also it furthers the robotics field from the open source point of view.

    And best yet, no blue screen of open fire ;)
    • You mean, "if we're going to war, better spend the least on it"?

      I'd agree with this.
      • Exactly. My #1 objection to the current US foreign policy is that we are spending absolutely humongous gobs of money on something that, in my view, has zero benefit to the American people.

        With as high of a deficit that we run, every bit of cash that is taken away from the military contractors and military and put into actually helping Americans, or used to cut taxes, or used to pay down the debt, is worthwhile.

        Every dollar saved by running Linux on a military robot is a dollar spent for your benefit instead
        • by AoT ( 107216 )
          Yay, let's ignore the death and destruction that war causes and worry about the money.

          Welcome to the robot future, where the first world supports war, as long as it doesn't cost too much.
        • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @02:28AM (#14623724)
          As a military historian, I don't think the arguement can be made that "at we are spending absolutely humongous gobs of money on something that, in my view, has zero benefit to the American people" either from a political, military or technology point of view.

          I will focus on the technological point of view here because the political and military sides...hell we all know that'll jsut cause yelling :)

          Military spending, in the West since 1900 has had positive outcomes technologically in the long run. Yea, poison gas, nuclear bombs, machine guns all killed people. But GPS, centimeter to millimeter wave radar, Doppler radar, composite aircraft materials, advanced avionics, LORAN, battlefield medicine, advanced metalurgy, the Internet, distributed communication networks, accelerated 3D graphics, nuclear power, light weight jet and gas turbines are just some of the technologies either spawned from defense spending or directly from war.

          We use this every day, in the early 80s, what spawned the increase in computing power and graphics? It wasn't the hobby PC market and it wasn't the business world, the technologies to ramp up computing power were directly funded by DoD and Intelligence budgets, the KGB Archives talks about this as an example of when the West started to outstrip the USSR/Comintern.

          And spending right now for the Global War on Terror is pushing the development of new technologies and more advanced systems. For example, gun shot wounds and injuries in combat. Vietnam pushed the development of the last generation of artificial limbs and this war is pushing the adaptation of new technologies as the standard. There are many more soldiers surviving wounds in Iraq and Afghanistan than in combat in Vietnam or the Second World War, new treatments and techniques are being developed and proven which will also work thier way into civilian medicine just as civilian gunshot treatments worked thier way into military treatments.

          It is sad that things like artificial limbs, blood extenders, advanced sensors require military funding to move into a generation, but that is the reality of life. If the Feds say, "we need new artifical limbs for the public", there will be 15 years of talking about before anything moves, like when we started talking about HDTV, but if the DoD needs something, they will throw the money out and something will get done.

          As for taking money away from military contractors, it's just another form of State support for engineering and practical sciences, why not spend the money? Without military contractors we'd not have turbofan powered 777s, we'd not have the Interstate Highway System, we'd not have CT scanners.
          • by killjoe ( 766577 )
            "As for taking money away from military contractors, it's just another form of State support for engineering and practical sciences, why not spend the money? Without military contractors we'd not have turbofan powered 777s, we'd not have the Interstate Highway System, we'd not have CT scanners."

            So you are saying that if the military didn't exist none of those things would have been invendted by private enterprise.

            A dubious claim. Hell for all you know even cooler things could have been invented without the
            • by Dausha ( 546002 )
              "So you are saying that if the military didn't exist none of those things would have been invendted by private enterprise."

              "A dubious claim. Hell for all you know even cooler things could have been invented without the shroud of secrecy."

              Perhaps a dubious claim. However, when you look at the spikes of development that occur during times of war, the claim seems less so. Look at the development of the airplane in the succession of wars. Of course, we mussn't forget the Cold War, which included huge amounts of
        • by Plunky ( 929104 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @05:23AM (#14624160)
          My #1 objection to the current US foreign policy is that we are spending absolutely humongous gobs of money on something that, in my view, has zero benefit to the American people.

          Eh?

          Just try googling for 'Record Oil Profits' one of these days.. you think that maybe those American People didnt get any benefits?

          What about 'Iraq Contracts', hm.. plenty of American People got rich there too..

    • My very Linux idealist point of view is: I prefer seeing a UGV exploding on a mine rather than seeing two or three GIs coming back in body bags.

      Should I call this pacifism? Arrrg, I don't mind!

  • GPL? (Score:2, Informative)

    by nemik ( 909434 )
    Don't worry, the goov't will be fair and release the source for it guys!

    And this new happens on the same day Honda made a self-driven car! Today is just full of coincidences. :)
    • "Don't worry, the goov't will be fair and release the source for it guys!

      And this new happens on the same day Honda made a self-driven car! Today is just full of coincidences. :)"

      Unless they're selling the vehicles, they don't need to release the source code to the public. Only people using the vehicles need to have access to the source code.
    • Since iRobot has strong MIT roots and congratulated the first hackers who modified their Roomba. Later, iRobot released full specifications for the original Roomba and more hacking efforts bloomed [roombacommunity.com].

      Oh, and as for the government? This is the same government which released BRL-CAD [sourceforge.net] and NASA World Wind [sourceforge.net], and sponsored the development of the Reiser filesystem [namesys.com] and OK WebServer [okws.org] (kicks Apache in the ass for dynamic sites) among countless other open source projects. Oh, and heard of SELinux [nsa.gov]? From the big bad NSA?
    • Re:GPL? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Stephen Samuel ( 106962 ) <samuel&bcgreen,com> on Thursday February 02, 2006 @01:43AM (#14623568) Homepage Journal
      Don't worry, the gov't will be fair and release the source for it guys!

      You only have to release the source code to people you distribute the hardware to. (If you always distribute the source code with any purchase, there's no need for a 'public release').

      This does, however, raise an interesting question: Does physical capture of a UGV classify as 'distribution' requiring a source-code disclosure?
      More importantly, would enemy lawyers applying for a source-code release order be declared 'unlawful combatants' and shipped off to Guantanimo for 5 years of cross examination?

      • Re:GPL? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Mostly a lurker ( 634878 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @02:58AM (#14623805)
        Does physical capture of a UGV classify as 'distribution' requiring a source-code disclosure?

        LOL. The GPLv3 does not seem to explicitly cover this case either. My take would be that distribution needs to be intentional for the rules governing full source code disclosure to apply. Otherwise, a thief entering the premises of a bank's EDP department and leaving with tapes containing program binaries would be entitled to copies of the source code if the programs were based on GPL code.

  • by ltwally ( 313043 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:37AM (#14623246) Homepage Journal
    "I wonder how Linux idealists feel about their cute little OS being deployed in machinery of war?"
    My guess would be: pride. That, and curiousity over anything GPL'd that the military had to give back.
    • by Ig0r ( 154739 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:41AM (#14623272)
      No altered code must be given unless binaries are also given.
    • by the_other_one ( 178565 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:43AM (#14623284) Homepage
      As long as the military did not distribute their code externally then they would not have to give anything back. They may or may not choose to give something back at their own discretion.
      • by the_other_one ( 178565 ) * on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:51AM (#14623330) Homepage
        Actually I meant binaries not code.

        Now here's a question:
            If the military distributed their binaries as part of the software controlling a missile. Would they have to include source code in the warhead?
        • by Anonymous Coward
          "Hey Larry, those dirty Linux hippies are claiming that use of GPL'd code in a missle warhead counts as 'distribution' under the GPL and are demanding source code. What should I do?"

          "Well Jerry we've gotta comply with the GPL so by all means burn the source to a CD-R, slip it into a warhead, and deliver it to them."
        • by SnowZero ( 92219 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @01:10AM (#14623419)
          Would they have to include source code in the warhead?

          No, it would suffice to include with the warhead a written offer, good for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than the cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code.

          (see the GPL [gnu.org], section 3b)
    • My guess would be: pride. That, and curiousity over anything GPL'd that the military had to give back.

      Why would they give anything back? Are they going to re-distribute it?
    • "pride" Thank you! Linux is not a "cute little" toy anymore, it's a tool, and it happens to be one especially well-fit for this job. Anything that increases Linux's reputation is good for Linux. And political policy....is just that.
    • by stevesliva ( 648202 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:49AM (#14623319) Journal
      How 'bout, "It's an operating system, not my grandma."

      In other news, the military uses Goodyear tires, and Goodyear tire developers are currently mulling the ethical implications.

    • by kfg ( 145172 )
      Pride, no.

      I guess I'd feel about the same as I would if I had discovered the laws of motion and used them to explain the motion of the planets, only to find out they were useful to the artillary experts to explain the motion of shells:

      "Yeah. So? You want I should feel bad about fire and the wheel too? How about rocks, you want I should feel bad about rocks?"

      I didn't build the goddamed thing. I built science. It's not even close to an issue for my conscience.

      KFG
    • I wonder how Linux idealists feel about their cute little OS being deployed in machinery of war?"

      I support the troops and I feel a lot more comfortable having cute little OS in charge that lets say an OS with a questionable reputation.

    • Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jd ( 1658 )
      Although the NSA are not military, there IS a history of the dodgier agencies giving back. (NASA has given back many times - Donald Becker contributed a lot to the network drivers and clustering technologies.)

      As for distribution - militaries exchange technology. The British buy from the Americans and vice versa, for example. That will certainly be covered by the GPL, which means first-tier allies of the US are likely to get hold of such code at some point.

      It's unclear what this would mean for the - uh - dod

    • If it got lost or stuck, is that considered a binary delivery? Would they then have to give the source code up? ...of course, the modifications must not have been very good if that happens.
    • They have an obligation under GPL to supply the source code to GPL-covered pieces to whoever purchases the software. Which I guess iRobot would have to do anyway when dealing with DOD.
    • by NitsujTPU ( 19263 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @02:19AM (#14623697)
      A couple of interesting notes:

      1) There is an open source initiative to share code between government contractors. I don't recall the name, it hadn't really taken off when I was doing contract work.
      2) The robot may run Linux, but that doesn't mean that any of its sensitive code is GPL'd. They might just be using the OS.
      3) iRobot is Rodney Brook's company. Rodney Brooks is the director of the computer science and artificial intelligence laboratory at MIT. A good deal of what this robot does may or may not be found in tech from that lab, most of which is probably published in publicly available academic journals. Even if this specific robots software is not, Linux enthusiasts can find all kinds of papers on robotics work and implement it in Linux. Want a start? I've done some research on the topic in the past, was a member of a DARPA Grand Challenge Team, and am looking for future research in the area. I can give you a stack of papers to get you started.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:37AM (#14623248)
    Linux kicks ass, so souldn't it kick others asses as well.
  • Slogan... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jsutton1027w ( 757650 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:38AM (#14623255) Homepage
    "Nothin' runs like a Penguin"
  • DARPA? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Eightyford ( 893696 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:39AM (#14623259) Homepage
    I wonder if the DARPA Grand Challenge [usatoday.com] competition had anything to do with this? Personally I'd like to see more competitions like that. The success of the X-Prize should tell us how well competition drives creativity and inovation.
  • GPL Implications? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by putko ( 753330 )
    Is there any conflict between the government and the GPL? If so, that will be neat, becuase the government will use its sovereign powers to trump anything in the GPL.

    That stands to reason, as the government is responsible for making the Copyright laws.

    In the Blackberry/RIM case, the government can tell the court that it wants to keep on using the patented stuff, even though the court may say that the government hasn't bought the product from the guys that own the patent. The court will then order Blackberry
    • Who says that all the software used on this device is open-source? The only thing that it says is that it's Linux-powered (which means that it runs on the Linux kernel). It's entirely possible, that all the software used on this device, save the Kernel, is closed source in nature. And then, the Gov't wouldn't be bound to release any source changes to the non-kernel software on it.

      But, even if they do make changes to the kernel, I suspect they have some way of getting around the license.
      • Re:GPL Implications? (Score:2, Informative)

        by LnxAddct ( 679316 )
        Any non-defense related sourcecode written by the government can be obtained by any citizen, although you may have to fill out paper work to get it. Alot of agencies just give it away though, NASA being a big supporter of that (I even believe they have some software for shuttle control available for download), but the department of defense also releases a ton of source code (quite a bit of it though you do need to sign a form and fax it, its not bad, I've done it). The NSA releases things like SELinux, but
    • Is there any conflict between the government and the GPL?
      I doubt it. Why would this application require modifying the kernel at all?
      If so, that will be neat, becuase the government will use its sovereign powers to trump anything in the GPL.
      I doubt that too. IME the US government is quite scrupulous about abiding by licenses. Anyways, they're using LynxWorks. I'm sure LynxWorks has a pretty good handle on the issues by now.
  • Linux is a Kernel (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anti-Trend ( 857000 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:40AM (#14623266) Homepage Journal
    ...not a religion. I am one of the those GNU/Linux advocates, and yet I don't see the big deal about Linux powering military equipment. Something's gonna power it, so in my mind it may as well be Linux. It's just an OS, a tool. And I'd trust Linux with a job of that nature, having been involved with Linux-powered ROVs first-hand.
    • Something's gonna power it, so in my mind it may as well be Linux.

      Yeah, because who's gonna trust Windows on their military equipemnt? [channel4.com]
    • Re:Linux is a Kernel (Score:4, Interesting)

      by lbrandy ( 923907 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @01:14AM (#14623430)
      You are so dead on. Wish I had mod points. Did you steal the religion line from someone, because I like it. Consider it stolen (uh, I mean, GPL'd)

      Anyways, it's hilarious that the slashdot groupthink has grown to the levels that people actually think that -everyone- who participates in the Linux process and believes in the open-source concept also, then, must share some supposed common anti-war pacifism or some other such nonsense. Someone please explain to me how being pro-war (whatever that means) is against the "linux ideal". Or, did the submitted actually mean, "I wonder how the people who read slashdot and are generally anti-war but also generally pro-linux are going to react to this". I guess that doesn't roll the same way off the tongue, so a little leeway of poetic liscense is necessary. Even still, I don't remember only agreeing to a strict anti-war anti-republican anti-wiretapping oath of allegience before muddling around in the memory management code... but that's just me.. I might have missed it. For some reason I thought the open-source software movement was about quality code... and not about war.. I didn't realize what exactly I was signing up for when I installed Gentoo.
  • by halivar ( 535827 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [reglefb]> on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:40AM (#14623268)
    I wonder how Linux idealists feel about their cute little OS being deployed in machinery of war?

    Oh, that's nothing. They'll totally blow a gasket when they find out what the "D" in DARPA stood for. Perhaps a mass boycott of the internet will result.
  • cool!! (Score:3, Funny)

    by revery ( 456516 ) <charles@c[ ].net ['ac2' in gap]> on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:42AM (#14623278) Homepage
    In other news, the fighting in Iran stopped for several hours yesterday when American college students hacked into a group of the Army's UGVs and used them to simulate games of Nintendo's RC Pro-Am and Mario Cart. Fortunately, control was restored later in the day, but not before the battlefield had been strewn with bananas, ricocheting tortoise shells and decoy power-ups.

    • C'mon! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jd ( 1658 )
      The Nintendo emulator won't cluster that well and isn't CPU intensive enough. Now, if you'd said that they'd uploaded copies of bzflag and freeciv server on one, xmame on a second and were doing a distributed compile from scratch of Gentoo or Fedora Core on the rest, it would be believable. :)
  • Robots fighting eachother is better then men fighting eachother. Sadly, I think it will mostly be bots fighting men, but whatever.
    • Robots fighting eachother is better then men fighting eachother. Sadly, I think it will mostly be bots fighting men, but whatever.

      "The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield, or at sea. They will be fought in space... or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots. Thank you."

  • "I wonder how Linux idealists feel about their cute little OS being deployed in machinery of war?"

    Wipe them out... all of them.
  • by Britz ( 170620 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:46AM (#14623298)
    Well, inventions get used in different ways. Scientists easily dismiss such notions. As would software developers, I suppose. But since the poster touched upon this topic I would really like to know how the Slashdot crowd feels about this issue. Should scientists be more sensetive about possible missuse of their findings?

    One argument would be: If I don't figure it out, someone else will come along later on. So by not discovering dangerous stuff it merely prolongs the danger.

    A good example would be genetic research, which bears huge potential as well as risks.

    IMHO researchers should not stop researching altogether, but be more sensitive and think about possible missuse beforehand. Also they should be much more vocal about the possible dangers that come with using the knowledge they helped to gain.
    • No doubt this a tough issue. I think that no matter what you do in your life and decisions you make, you have to consider how it will affect others. That applies for scientists as well as everyday people.

      I don't think scientists should stop researching or slow it significantly except in the absolute most extreme cases. More important is that scientists work with social leaders, other scientist and politicians to develop a framework to direct these technologies to serve the public good. That can go through a
    • A few points:
      • Even if no wars ever occurred weapons would still be made. Why ? Weapon is a really nice intermediate project - concentrate some energy in a particular distant point at a particular time. Easy to gauge success of. (This is similar to, say, computing million digits of pi or e)
      • Judging by the fights on the stadiums some humans will find a way and desire to inflict damage even if all the usual weapons are removed and the law is against them. One could hope that having something very destructive
    • IMHO researchers should not stop researching altogether, but be more sensitive and think about possible missuse beforehand.

      I call bullshit. Your view of the world is too simplisitic. Researchers should do research and leave the politics to the politicians. Life is never as simple as you make it out to be. Every single invention of the last 3000 years can be misused in the wrong hands. Working metal created weapons as easily as it created farming tools.
    • ". Also they should be much more vocal about the possible dangers that come with using the knowledge they helped to gain."

      That just brings more attention to it though. 'With great knowledge comes great responsibility', 'There is no knowledge that is not power', etc. Insight is a double edged sword, and everyone has different ethics about it. Theres no 'right answer', just a bunch of opinions.
    • An important point (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jd ( 1658 ) <(imipak) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Thursday February 02, 2006 @02:13AM (#14623679) Homepage Journal
      It is fairly firmly established that the civilizations of the Indus River and Skara Brae had no significant violence within the community and that warfare was unknown to them. Technically, it does follow that warfare is NOT a part of the "human condition" but is an extra that has voluntarily been incorporated. Whether it can be unincorporated once present is unclear, but if initially absent it can remain absent.

      Not all inventions are products of warfare or hostility. In general, inventions are a product of need, with greater need yielding greater inventions. War generates need, so all wars will see inventiveness increase, but need does not require war. It is a one-way relationship.

      Should the military use GPLed technology? Provided they honor the license and the spirit, yes. I believe they should. In fact, I'd almost prefer it if it were mandatory. Why? Because if you share what you are doing - even with a limited few - and reduce the secrecy, you will also reduce the sort of paranoia that tends to lead to conflict. If you look at the recent war with Iraq and the building tensions with Iran, what is the common factor? Secrecy on all sides, paranoia on all sides, resulting in tension and finally hostilities. Furthermore, it is between highly unequal forces, leading to the notion of an eventual "victory". Near-equal forces, as existed in the "Cold War", are much keener to avoid conflict. GPLing the armed services, therefore, could be one step towards reducing the need for military interventions.

      Then there's the "viral" nature of the GPL. Again, this assumes that the GPL is honored in spirit and in letter. The technology will be sold to close allies, who can then alter the sourcecode for their own needs - within that particular system and for other devices. Those other devices will therefore carry GPLed code. Eventually, through enough such steps, the code will reach dual-purpose technology. Probably pretty quickly, too. When that happens, all of the improvements will flood back into the civilian world.

      Finally, I believe that there are members of the armed services who value the Open Source community and want to sustain it. The military, more than anyone else, know how to make software secure. In this day and age, with viruses, trojans and worms running rampant, I certainly think that the military could play a major role in reducing or eliminating malware. They know more about trust systems, authentication of information, controlling access without debilitating operations, fault tolerence in hostile environments, high volume information processing without inflicting DDoS attacks on themselves, etc, than anyone else. That knowledge, donated back into the F/OSS community, could revolutionise computing as we know it. I don't think it can hurt to give them the opportunity.

      Yes, Einstein regretted the bomb. Arguably, nuclear weapons technology was a bit of a mistake - it wasn't needed to get Japan to surrender and has opened up more cans of worms across the world than I care to imagine. Arguably, though, it was inevitable. There have been natural runaway reactions, so someone would have discovered how to cause one eventually through simple geology. Either that, or through a nuclear reactor accident.

      (Knowing more about the nature of critical mass reactions may actually have prevented far worse accidents than have been caused through malice. We'll never know the answer to that one, but it seems a possibility.)

      Uncontrolled nuclear explosions, through proposed derivatives of the Orion Project, may yet have a valuable function in space exploration, too, in a way that might not be practical by other means. When people say that something can cut both ways, they usually mean that there's a negative side to something appearing positive. What they forget is that the statement doesn't stop there. It also means that - if you choose to seek it out - there can be a positive side to something that appears negative.

      I'm not sa

  • Damn proud (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tsotha ( 720379 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:49AM (#14623315)
    I wonder how Linux idealists feel about their cute little OS being deployed in machinery of war?

    I think it's great. We're talkin' about a frickin' cart here, not Giant Robo [wikipedia.org], and I'd rather have the Army use Linux than give some contractor 2 billion dollars to develop an operating system from scratch.

  • by OmegaBlac ( 752432 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:50AM (#14623322)
    I wonder how Linux idealists feel about their cute little OS being deployed in machinery of war?
    Wow talk about a flamebait comment (but this is slashdot though). FOSS entitles everyone to be able to use the software regardless if they are the military, a terrorist group, a hacker, whoever. Linux would not be a truly Free (as in speech) OS if the GPL restricted or forbid its use by the military. For something to be truly free, it must be accessible to everyone. IMO, I think slashdot could do without the lil trollish comments at the end of the summaries--its tiring and childish.
    • > I think slashdot could do without the lil trollish comments at the end of the summaries..

      You heartless bastard! Without the trolling and flamebait articles the pageviews would go down. Do you want Taco & the gang to have to get a day job instead of being in the totally rad position of being one of the only bloggers without a day job? Of course slashdot isn't really even a blog since most bloggers contribute a bit of original commentary and/or other content.
  • HAHAHA! (Score:3, Funny)

    by WhiteWolf666 ( 145211 ) <[sherwin] [at] [amiran.us]> on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:52AM (#14623334) Homepage Journal
    I wonder how Linux idealists feel about their cute little OS being deployed in machinery of war?

    Excuse my French, but SUPER-FUCKING-COOL.

    I eagerly await our new, Linux based Robotic F/OSS Overlords!

    HAHAHAHAHA

    For some reason, this joke feels funnier this time.
  • UGV good, DRM bad? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KNicolson ( 147698 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:54AM (#14623340) Homepage
    So far, the balance of the comments seem to be in favour, or at least neutral to the idea of implementing Linux within a device that will no doubt end up killing a good few people. In contrast, should Linux ever be used for DRMs, which have, as far as I know, not killed anyone, most people here would be up in arms, if the recent story on GPL and the DRM is to be taken as a guide.
    • by lbrandy ( 923907 )
      So far, the balance of the comments seem to be in favour, or at least neutral to the idea of implementing Linux within a device that will no doubt end up killing a good few people.

      No, I think you've completely misconstrued the "average" opinion. It has nothing to do with killing people, and "killing people" isn't the metric by which the "freedom" of software is judged... that is an arbitrary line you've drawn because of your own personal political agenda. The linux kernel is about a good, free, operating
    • by lasindi ( 770329 )
      So far, the balance of the comments seem to be in favour, or at least neutral to the idea of implementing Linux within a device that will no doubt end up killing a good few people. In contrast, should Linux ever be used for DRMs, which have, as far as I know, not killed anyone, most people here would be up in arms, if the recent story on GPL and the DRM is to be taken as a guide.

      First of all, basically everyone recognizes the right of the military to use Linux; heck, anyone, whether good or evil, has an
  • Let's face it, most any new tool is going to have military implications. Airplanes got co-opted into war quite soon after they were proven practical, but the world is a better place for having them. Conversely, rockets were developed as weapons of war, but have been essential in the (mostly peaceful) exploration of space, not to mention putting up satellites. Satellites themselves come in distinct varieties for reconnaisance use and civilian (mostly communications) use.

    Most every sword has two edges. It all
  • That vehicle would seem to be more in the spirit of the original Jeep than the Hummer is, though personally, in hostile situations, I would still want something like a body with armor.
  • by superdan2k ( 135614 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @01:22AM (#14623479) Homepage Journal
    ...the last thing I need is fucking Clippy popping up in my rifle sights.

    "It looks like you are attempting a center-of-mass shot at 250 meters. Would you like help?

    O Get help taking the shot.
    O Just take the shot without help.
    O Get help relocating your target, who is long-gone by the time you've finished mousing around this lame-assed help interface."

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Thursday February 02, 2006 @01:35AM (#14623540)
    I wonder how Linux idealists feel about their cute little OS being deployed in machinery of war?

    Considering all it does is run a patrol and alert when people are coming INTO a base presumably up to something dastardly - I imagine it would feel pretty good to deploy something like that would help save lives.

    Would it help the submitter if the first deployment were to patrol a buidling full of bunny rabbits and baby chicks to keep wolves at bay?
  • What a hokey question. DARPA has invested millions in Linux and BSD. Two obvious examples are TCP/IP and PostgreSQL.
  • by CupBeEmpty ( 720791 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @01:42AM (#14623565)
    I am pretty sure that Linux is really the only option for something like this for several reasons:
    -OS X would simply look too damn sleek and sexy for military use
    -Windows
              *Blue Screen of Death (not helpful in tactical situations)
              *As mentioned before, Clippy would probably be a liability in the field
              *Do you really want something like Sasser to cripple the military?
              *In a battlefield situation is one Tuesday a month enough?
    -The proprietary Diebold voting machine system
              *hahahahhahahahahaha
    -Arm this thing with some serious firepower and "rm -rf" means something
    -Arm this thing and alias pWn="sudo rm -rf /var/enemy/combatants/"
    -BeOS just flashes the things headlights
  • Oh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MmmmAqua ( 613624 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @01:42AM (#14623566)
    I wonder how Linux idealists feel about their cute little OS being deployed in machinery of war?"

    Isn't that the point? Free as in speech, not as in beer means that sometimes someone might do something with your creation that you don't like or agree with. You can't have your cake and eat it, too.
  • Possible problems with this idea.

    1) It cannot climb stairs.
    2) It cannot traverse rocky or uneven territory (unless there is a flat platform to follow)
    3) Sooner or later, a software bug is going to turn "Automous Robotic Follow Mode" into the military version of "Carmageddon" as it runs down the soldiers in front.
    4) Enemy soldiers are going to have a convenient aim point for rifle-grenades and similar whenever they hid, because this big ugly robot is going to follow them right up to their hiding place.
    5) Whi
  • Penguins do.
  • Unmanned my arse. (Score:5, Informative)

    by john_anderson_ii ( 786633 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @02:08AM (#14623660)
    First off. This ATV/Golf cart thing isn't going to be killing anyone unless it runs them over....probably several times considering it's size. There isn't a single piece of weaponry, automated or otherwise aboard this thing. Though Marines will probably figure out a way to attach a manned M240 to one, but if the shooting starts, it's probably going to be taken off autopilot. At least I would hope.

    In any event the "practical" uses of this thing aren't practical at all! I mean, it's cool and all, but there is no way in hell the military is going to let these things roam around Iraq unmanned. They will never leave eyesight.

    Consider my deployment in Iraq. My Marine Reserve unit built a 100 mile temporary fuel supply line from Kuwait up into southern central Iraq. Every few miles along this pipeline at "booster" stations a fire team of Marines were stationed to man the pumps. Every day a manned convoy would leave the central logistical support area and resupply the troops along the line with food, water, mail, ammo, etc.

    Here's what would happen if the Military let this thing re-supply the troops autonomously.

    1.) By the 3rd out of 17 booster stations all the good MRE's would be rat-fucked out of the boxes.
    2.) By the 4th booster, all MRE's would be gone and somone would have pissed in the remaining water.
    3.) The next day, when the thing hadn't come home and booster stations 6 through 17 called in wondering where their water was, a convoy would find it between booster station 5 & 6 with no engine, no wheels, and no usable sheetmetal left.
    4.) The bedouins across the way would have an oxcart with brand new wheels a new engine on their generator and a new green metal patch on the roof of their tent.


    So, it's really not unmanned. It's only a toy that Marines are going to be responsible to look after, take care of, and never let out of their sight. I suppose it could be useful to carry things while you are on a patrol, but that's what your pack is for anyway.
  • by Chris Snook ( 872473 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @02:10AM (#14623666)
    ...I think there's a much bigger swords/plowshares issue with the John Deere engine than the OS.
  • by KrisCowboy ( 776288 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @02:18AM (#14623694) Journal
    I wonder how Linux idealists feel about their cute little OS being deployed in machinery of war?

    I feel like Einstein after the two A-bombs on Japan. I feel like Mikhail Kalashnikov seeing his designer gun on TV where it was used to pump up a couple of hundred kids.

    Seriously, what's wrong with Linux being used in this project? You a Windows user man?
  • Feel? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @04:23AM (#14624020) Homepage Journal
    "I wonder how Linux idealists feel about their cute little OS being deployed in machinery of war?"

    The same I feel about Linux servers being used for spam: I'd like to slowly disembowl the spammers, but what does the OS (by definition a general-purpose tool) have to do with that?
  • by jamej ( 543667 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @04:47AM (#14624084)
    Maybe some of our Linux idealist understand some things are worse than war. Just ask some of the poor folks in N. Korea, or some of the folks that survived and are witnesses of the holocost. Linux in defense of human dignity and fredom is beautiful thing.
  • by Flying pig ( 925874 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @04:51AM (#14624091)
    The John Deere platform is only available to military users. It has a really nice, small, advanced Diesel engine so should be very cheap to run. It looks dirt simple to work on. Far from being restricted, they should be giving them away with a grant to anyone working on autonomous vehicles, and to me. Because I want one. No, make that two. In fact, give them away free to anyone who has ever worked in vehicle research, because you will then see the state of the art in autonomy advance by leaps and bounds. Why? Because there is currently no suitable cheap, widely available platform. The Darpa challenge was won by a modified VW van, with a huge array of platforms behind it. Standardising around a simple, low cost, low power vehicle which is already tough would put future teams on a level playing field, ensuring that it was the superior systems that won the day, and that no-one could profit from their ability to buy mechanical muscle.

A penny saved is a penny to squander. -- Ambrose Bierce

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